Rock Production And Staging In Non-Studio Spaces: Presentations Of Space In Left Or Right’s Buzzy


This paper discusses the use of non-studio recording practices in the staging of ensemble vocal performances in contemporary rock music production. The paper analyses the production process and resultant audio examples from a record produced by the author in 2011-12. The methodology for this research is practice-led, and at times auto-ethnographic, drawing on similar approaches to research in this area by Elliot Bates (2010), Mike Howlett (2009), Thomas Porcello (1998) and Louise Meintjes (2003). The analysis of this production – as detailed from the author’s ‘insider’ perspective – focuses on instances of ‘staging’ in the recording process, (see Lacasse: 2000, Zagorski-Thomas: 2007 and 2010, and Liu-Rosenbaum: 2012 below). The paper tests the applicability of this concept to work produced outside of recording studio environments, with a specific focus on the processes involved in record-making, presented from the perspective of the record-producer-as-scholar.1

The recording methodology discussed below is to some degree enabled by the democratisation of the means of music production and the ever-increasing efficiency of digital workstations. These factors have enabled the un-tethering of professional and semi-professional production practices from the geographical confines of the large-scale recording studio.2 This paper explores some of the effects of the mobilisation of rock production practice to non-studio locations, through correlating two case studies with existing literature concerning several lines of theoretical inquiry.

Firstly, the discussion addresses the link between recording location, non-studio practice, and scholarly discussions of the recording studio as conceptual space. One of the concerns here is to correlate discussion of non-studio production practices with literature on the nature of the recording studio as production space (c.f., Théberge 2004, Williams: 2012, Bates: 2012, Porcello: 2005a). The paper questions the applicability of assertions made about practices in conventional studios to work conducted in non-studio environments. In particular, this paper discusses the configuration of recording spaces to foster ensemble performance, and the value of this production strategy, as compared to more conventional, rationalised studio practices. This discussion suggests the value of the effects of non-studio recording practices as strategies for ‘staging’ narrative and thematic concerns. This concept, drawn from the work of William Moylan (1992) and Serge Lacasse (2000), is concisely outlined by Simon Zagorski-Thomas, who states,

The notion of staging refers to the treatment of sound in ways that add meaningful context for the listener. Perhaps the simplest example of this is the addition of ambience to suggest the sound source’s placement in physical space – a church as opposed to a bathroom, for instance (2007: 11).

The second line of inquiry is the discussion and expansion of the concept of staging outlined above. The case studies presented illustrate uses of acoustic space to underscore thematic and narrative concerns, alongside uses of electronic manipulation. As such, this necessitates an expansion of Lacasse’s focus upon electronic manipulations of the voice in rock production, towards a broader application of the concept that incorporates spatial information gained during the tracking process.3 This is predicated on the acoustic characteristics of non-studio spaces, which present a greater amount and variety of acoustical information in comparison to contemporary recording studios, owing to the imperatives underpinning contemporary studio design and practice. Susan Schmidt Horning has traced the evolution of recording studio architecture – parallel to the development and refinement of multi-track recording technologies – and suggests that from the 1970s, “the dead studio… once again became desirable and the focal point of the studio-as-instrument had shifted from the studio to the control room” (2012, 40). This paper is in many ways a discussion of a project that attempts to re-locate this focus, which in turn prompts discussion of the studio (i.e. recording space) as instrument in the staging of contemporary rock music.

The final concern of this paper is the relationship between staging practices based on non-studio recording locations, and the relationship between natural reverberation, and electronic manipulations of sound in post-production. I suggest below that R. Murray Schafer’s concept of schizophonia can function as a valuable starting point in understanding the reification of physical space that these production techniques involve (1977, 90). To this end, I will explore the functionality of the ‘split’ between acoustically recorded and simulated space as both a function of contemporary music production practices, and as a technique for sonic differentiation.4

Background: Left or Right’s Buzzy

I produced Left or Right’s sophomore record, Buzzy, with the band between July 2011 and its release in May 2012, as part of my doctoral research. Much of the record was produced at the University of Otago’s NZMIC Albany Street Studios, although the instances discussed below were all tracked in non-studio spaces.5 The record achieved a modicum of commercial success, spending six weeks in the New Zealand Album Charts, and the band and myself (as their live sound engineer) toured the album to both New Zealand and Australia.6

Before discussing some aspects of its production, it is worth outlining the nature of the songs that comprise the album. Musically, Buzzy is best described as polystylistic, moving through pop, rock, reggae, and psychedelic prog genres. Thematically, it is both improbable, and irresolute. For example, one of the tracks discussed below concerns the loss, death, and post-mortem return of a frozen pet cat, narrated both lyrically and instrumentally, through alternation between narrative positions and instrumental styles, which include funk reggae passages and broken-time heavy-metal style riffs.7

Despite the polystylism and improbable themes, the songs on Buzzy nonetheless uniformly suggest broader themes of frustration and existentialism. Several of the tracks juxtapose the narration of mundane incidents from everyday life against improbable lyrical themes and jarring, unexpected changes in instrumental style, often involving shifts from pop-reggae passages to the use of noise, broken-time, and heavy distortion.8 Above all, it is the interplay between instrumental and verbal semantics that motivated the creative deployment of acoustic space as a staging technique in the production of this record.

“Do Things:” Ensemble Performance and “Communal Effort”

This section of the paper refers to track five of Buzzy, entitled “Do Things.” This track was recorded in multiple physical spaces; the introductory a cappella vocals were tracked in First Church Cathedral, a very large space in Invercargill, New Zealand.9 For this session, all three vocalists sang in ensemble, with no headphones, with a small speaker providing monitoring clustered around a microphone array (see image 1 below). The rhythm section was recorded in Albany Street studio’s live room, a large, acoustically treated space based on a BBC design, while the vocals in the first half of the first verse were recorded in a vocal booth, in a similar fashion to those tracked in the church.10 The remainder of the vocals were recorded in a more conventional way, by individual singers in acoustically treated studio isolation booths, using headphones. The use of such a number of tracking venues in the recording of one song may seem unusual; while the process of overdubbing has a long history in pop production, the use of multiple spaces for the recording of vocals on one track seems counter to the goal of sonic uniformity. There are, however, several reasons underlying the use of multiple spaces here.11

The first of these appears at first to be a practical consideration. The band expressed dissatisfaction with the process of overdubbing a number of the a cappella vocal passages on the record – several of which contained difficult melismatic runs:12

Excerpt 1

[audio:|titles=Excerpt 1 MH ARP Conference Paper 2013]

We found instead that having the group perform these passages as an ensemble greatly aided their ability to harmonise together, in time. Furthermore, one could argue that the performance of harmonised melisma depends, to a degree, on what Keil and Progler term ‘processural participatory discrepancies.’13 The group’s enhanced ability to execute the micro-temporal shifts in pitch required to perform the introductory vocal to “Do Things” did, however, necessitate a number of compromises in aspects of the vocal production process.

Vocal Tracking Method

These introductory, a cappella vocals were tracked with the musicians singing into two microphones set up in a mid-side array on the floor of First Church Cathedral.14 Consequently, the pan-positions and relative loudness of each vocalist is fixed. Hence, the vocalist singing the higher pitched part (which can be heard on the left side of the stereo field), was placed a metre further from the microphone array than the other singers.

Tracking Method, Reverberation and Technologies of Audition

This first consideration here is the way in which the stereo array fixes the pan positions of the vocalists. While the image was narrowed somewhat in post-production, the tracking methodology still enforces the following spatial arrangement of vocalists in the stereo field:

Vocalists from Left or Right performing in ensemble. Note the mid-side microphone array, and the relative position of each performer.

Furthermore, the use of this approach fixes the ratio of dry to reverberant sound as the tracks are recorded, based solely on how close the singers are to the microphones. Thus, the vocalist performing the high harmony is in fact farther toward the rear of the stereo sound stage than the other two vocalists (see Moylan: 2012, 163-69). This type of decision would usually be made in post-production, exploiting the advantages of the malleability of tracks in the age of digital production (Théberge: 1997, 229). One of the advantages of making these decisions retrospectively is the ability to audition sounds in a controlled acoustic space. As Bates notes, the studio environment functions as The Focus Of Audition – the environment in which sounds are evaluated  in record production (see Bates: 2012, 2). Furthermore, vocal tracks recorded in this way are difficult to edit, as sounds from one performer will always ‘bleed’ into all other performers’ sides of the microphone array. This effect, however, also functions as an important signifier of ensemble performance; the sound of multiple voices harmonising in a cathedral space has a particular sound. Lacasse, in his historical discussion of the reverberant characteristics of church cathedrals, notes:

The long reverberation heard in churches and cathedrals also had direct effects on the music itself. By prolonging the sound, reverberation acted as a kind of sonic binder, linking the previous note to the next one, and often producing overlapping” (2000, 53).15

This binding effect also functions alongside the layering of vocals. The double tracking of these performances is particularly suited to the euphonic characteristics of performance in reverberant spaces. Lacasse traces a link between harmonised vocal performance, double tracking and euphony in discussing the treatment of harmonised vocals in the work of the Beatles and the Beach Boys:

Most of these songs feature duos, choruses or double-tracked vocals, whose blending is further enhanced by the presence of reverb. Consequently, reverberation, as well as representing a stable and natural environment such as an on-stage situation, acts as a musical binder and thus becomes a musical element directly contributing to the effect of euphony, characteristic of that style (2000: 181).

The a capella vocals on Buzzy follow on from this historical precedent, and the reverberant characteristics and spatialisation of these vocals is particularly important in distinguishing these passages from the more conventionally recorded (overdubbed) monophonic vocals on the record.

Rationalisation and Ensemble Performance

In his discussion of recording practices in Austin, Texas, Thomas Porcello quotes both Mark Hunter and Charles Keil’s criticisms of rationalised multi-tracking practice, arguing: “Hunter is essentially suggesting that sound recording technologies have alienated musical performers from the collective art of music making” (see Porcello: 2005a,106).16 Perhaps a less deterministic rendition of this sentiment can be found in the writings of Théberge, who argues that the overdubbing process fosters a “sonic ‘image’ of communal effort, [which] has little in common with any spatial, temporal, or social concept of ‘community’” (1989, 110). These long-standing debates around the effects of multi-track recording practices evoke the production aesthetic propagated by Left or Right. The group have previously defined their recorded output as directly related to their prowess in ensemble performance, and their prior release, (which I did not produce), had this rather intriguing declaration printed on the liner notes: “This L.P. is the closest attempt at achieving the raw feel of our live sound, played openly and spontaneously” (Left or Right: 2009).

Ensemble Performance, Interaction and Participatory Discrepancies

In response to this attitude, and given the band’s ability to play and sing proficiently as an ensemble, I elected to track as many elements of the record as possible in ensemble performance situations. Many of the practices employed in this endeavour bear similarity to those described by Porcello.17 These techniques include; tracking the entire rhythm section simultaneously, the extensive use of room microphones, and a focus on recording entire performances of a song in one take, and avoiding click tracks and digital editing (see 2005a).

The foregrounding of processural and textural participatory discrepancies in this way was partially motivated by the production aesthetic described in the liner notes above, centred on a shared desire to create a feeling of liveness and spontaneity in this recording. Equally significant to this decision, however, was the desire to use the textural participatory discrepancies of ensemble performance in non-studio space as a staging strategy.

Staging Narrative Perspective: Multiple Performance Environments in “Do Things”18

An example of the exploitation of the acoustic characteristics of various recording locations lies in the gradual transition in vocal tone throughout the initial sections of “Do Things.” The vocal presentations here range from the more spacious, distant sound of the a cappella introduction – constructed through the layering of harmonised ensemble performances recorded in the church cathedral (See Excerpt 2, 0:00-0:30) – through the tighter sounding, though still harmonised ensemble performances of the first (double-time) half of verse 1 (recorded in ensemble in a studio vocal booth – see Excerpt 2, 1:06-1:34) – to the sudden shift to individually overdubbed vocals at 1:38 of Excerpt 2.

Excerpt 2

[audio:|titles=Excerpt 2 MH ARP Conference Paper 2013]

Image 2:

This shift in reverberant character serves to underscore the change in various perspectives in the track, which portrays the narrator’s existential struggle with the mundanity of their everyday life, focussed through an obsession with alien life forms. As such, the spatial treatment of the introductory ensemble vocals is explicitly linked to their lyrical content; the more reverberant, ensemble performances are associated with the existential musings, “Buzzy thoughts in my mind, I start to get nervous,” and “In this spell that we’re under, are we just numbers?” While the less reverberant vocals, taking the form of ensemble-question and individual-answer, are tracked and presented with relatively little reverberation:

In Lacasse’s terms, the use of multiple reverberant signatures as the track’s narrative develops sits on the border between the extramusical – it relates to connotations not expressed directly by the lyrics – and intramusical, as the varying sonic signatures are directly related to the piece’s structure in the introductory sections (2000, 19). Furthermore, the changes in reverberant character function as an example of diachronic contrast, as the various levels of reverberation are experienced relative to others unfolding within the frame of the recording– see 2000, 174). These diachronic relationships are particularly evident in the jarring shift in vocal spatialisation at 1:40 (Excerpt 2), which serves to underscore the binary between existential questioning and mundanity in the lyrical narrative. The climax of this conflict occurs at 06:17, at which point the protagonist’s obsession becomes fatal (to both him and the track), and the shift in musical style serves to kill off both the platform for the lyrical narrative, and the melodic and narrative elements of the lyric itself. The lyrics are reduced to the obsessive repetition of the tracks’ core questions (“do things come down from up above / do things come up from down below” (see Excerpt 3).

Excerpt 3

[audio:|titles=Excerpt 3 MH ARP Conference Paper 2013]

The use of ensemble performance in non-studio spaces to elicit timbral differentiation aides in the staging of the binary thematic concerns and narrative development of “Do Things.” The idea that recording practices can assist in the creation and exploitation of participatory and textural PD’s to this end has been discussed by both Thomas Porcello (2005a) and, more recently, Aaron Liu-Rosenbaum (2012). Where their discussion focus on this technique as a form of general practice within a genre (Porcello), or on an individual-track level, it is important to note that these techniques can function across an entire album. In the production of Buzzy, the use of acoustic space serves to connote shifts in narrative voice, often from the perfunctory to the metaphorical. A clear example of this is the bridge section in the track “Frozen Cat / Blackie the Cat” (see Excerpt 5, 0:00-0:48).

Background: Frozen Cat

This is another example from Buzzy, the bridge section of the two-part track “Frozen Cat / Blackie the Cat” mentioned in the introductory section. This is a tragi-comic song largely narrated from the point of view of a young boy, who finds the frozen body of a cat, and attempts to bring it back to life by thawing it out.19 The first verse and chorus of the song contain the following lyrics, sung from the perspective of the protagonist:

Walking home from school
I came up to this cat
Frozen to the bone
I thought what’s up with that

To bring it back to life
Is what I desired
I didn’t think twice
To put it by the fire20

Excerpt 4

[audio:|titles=Excerpt 4 MH ARP Conference Paper 2013]

The section discussed below, however, is narrated by the cat’s owners, who are unaware that they are actually singing the cat’s eulogy. The underlying themes are naivety and death, loss of innocence, and the role of pets in embodying often-uncomfortable human emotions.

In the bridge of the track, the band eulogise the frozen cat by singing – again a cappella – the owner’s missing pets notice, drawn, incidentally, from a real notice found near the groups’ house. The original notice was comprised of a near identical text to the final lyrics, which read:

Blackie the cat has gone missing
From the bottom of Pine Hill road
He is almost completely black
With a small white patch on his belly
Big green eyes, medium length fur
He has a flat nose being part Persian
Friendly but a little flighty

Excerpt 5

[audio:|titles=Excerpt 5 MH ARP Conference Paper 2013]

This section of the track was difficult to produce, particularly in terms of underscoring the change in narrative perspective. Hence the use of a mixture of vocal tracking methods: ensemble performances from the church, individual vocal tracks, and vocalists singing each other’s parts.

Staging and Intramusical Relationships

The change in vocal timbre and performance style between the end of “Frozen Cat,” and the start of “Blackie the Cat” functions to underscore the associations between the church choir aesthetic of the production, and (as in “Do Things”), the shift in speaking voice. We now are now, ostensibly, hearing the cat’s owners’ plea for Blackie’s unlikely return. The a cappella rendition of the missing pets notice, however, is actually staged as an ironic eulogy to the cat. Lacasse discusses the use of contrasting reverb treatments to demarcate shifts in perspective (see 2000, 192), and the shift in vocal treatment here is executed in order to clarify the shift in narrative position. Once again, in staging this incident, the textural PD’s of ensemble performance in a particular space were most important.

Cathedral Reverberation and Intra/Extra-musical Connotations

It is perhaps not surprising that a cathedral was deemed the most appropriate place for the tracking of this passage.  In addition to the influence on performance style and timbre discussed above, this decision was also based upon characteristics of the cathedral that are, to a degree, extra-musical/acoustic. Both Bates and Gibson note the presence of a culture and social significance attached to recording studios (Bates: 2012, Gibson: 2005). I suggest here that the culture and social significance of non-studio recording locations is also of importance in engendering certain styles of performance. Expressing this in simple terms, Sven Sterken notes, “architecture has a conditioning capacity […] the concert hall has not only to do with acoustics and functionality, it can also become a catalyst or an obstacle in the development of new auditory experiences” (Sterken: 2007, 50-51). Thus, in tracking “Frozen Cat / Blackie the Cat,” the “conditioning capacity” of the church cathedral rendered it the most appropriate environment in which to elicit a choral style of performance from the vocalists of Left or Right.

On a textural level, this environment was also appropriate due to the particular characteristics of its reverb signature. As Peter Doyle notes, there is “connection between what might be called ‘reverberancy’ and the sacred,” and the sound of a vocal ensemble, singing a cappella in a reverberant church cathedral aided greatly in reinforcing the funerary tone of the ‘eulogy’ (Doyle: 2005).21 In order to accentuate the change in voice and thematic material, we also overdubbed a Hammond organ, with a hackneyed, old-gospel style tone, and an upright piano (both of which enter with the band at Excerpt 5, 0:27). Furthermore, the vocals are also treated with artificial delay effects – predominantly simulated tape-echoes, and, at the conclusion of the passage, an analogue delay unit feeding back upon itself (this occurs at Excerpt 5, 0:43-0:48).

This delay effect, which is present throughout the section before feeding back on itself, is important in denoting the nostalgic yearning of the pet’s owners, and also the passage of time in the song; indeed, Lacasse makes a series of associations between echo and nostalgia (see, for example, 2000, 217), and the delay feedback effect functions to conclude the exegesis passage, and denote the shift of narrative position, back to the young protagonist.

Image 3:

Acoustic Space, Electronic Manipulation and Schizophonia:

In “Frozen Cat,” the naturally reverberant ensemble vocal performances are heard alongside artificial sonic manipulations, and sounds and instruments recorded in other spaces. This phenomenon raises an important question; how might we conceptualise the deliberate juxtaposition of recorded sounds from disparate spaces in record production?

On a practical level, the presentation of ‘real’ (recorded) and ‘artificial’ reverb effects results in a comingling of (at least) two sounds, rather than the effacement of one or the other. As Eliot Bates notes, “the sound, quite literally, is split between its origins in a small tracking room and its destination in a wholly different acoustic environment, but retains traces of both” (2012, 5). Bates links this directly to Schafer’s concept of schizophonia; “the split between an original sound and its electroacoustical transmission or reproduction” (1977, 90, quoted in Bates, 2005, 5), and Jason Stanyek and Benjamin Piekut’s concept of rhizophonia; “the fundamentally fragmented yet proliferative condition of sound reproduction and recording, where sounds and bodies are constantly dislocated, relocated, and co-located in temporary and aural configurations” (2010, 19, quoted in Bates, 2012, 5).22 Bates rightly points out that these concepts tend to over-emphasise the schism of sounds, stating: “most theorizations of these technology-mediated -phonias exclusively emphasise the split or fragment (which is never complete) rather than the trace (which always remains) – the placelessness of recorded sound rather than the indelibility of place in all acoustic recording” (2012, 5). This argument is particularly applicable to the two instances from Buzzy discussed above, in that they achieve their staging effects largely through the reverberant characteristics of the ‘traces’ of the tracking environments. These traces are inextricably related to the nature of performance in naturally reverberant spaces, and accentuate the euphonic binding of harmonised vocals. In the case of “Frozen Cat / Blackie The Cat,” it is the commonality between these elements and the particular timbre of the instrumental backing against which the vocal stream is set – the organ and piano timbres discussed above – that serve to denote particular thematic and narrative concerns. The juxtaposition of metaphysical and mundane concerns in “Do Things,” and the shift in speaking voice, tone and narrative perspective to that of an ironic eulogy (again based on an ostensibly mundane text) in “Frozen Cat / Blackie the Cat,” are both achieved through the combination of acoustic ‘traces,’ instrumental timbre, and electronic manipulations. The calculated combination of sounds in this way, while functioning as an effective staging technique, also impels us to evaluate our conceptualisation of the recording studio.

The liner-notes to Buzzy exemplify this issue through their length and verbosity in discussing the subject:


Thus, when talking of this record, it is difficult to refer to ‘the studio’ in an archetypal fashion, as some researchers in this field have been inclined to do; Wallach, as discussed in the introduction, Gibson (2005) and Bates (2012) all discuss ‘the studio’ in terms of archetypal characteristics. There are also several historical examples of scholarship that argue for a certain homogenisation of practice in music production, particularly owing to its rationalisation through multi-track technologies; Paul Théberge’s earlier writing (1989) and John Frederickson’s (1989) discussion take this angle rather strongly. In this vein, Théberge later asserts that, in the age of digital connectivity, the studio can appear as a “functional non-place.” I would, however, argue that the practice of using multiple, non-studio spaces in the tracking of a rock album tends to suggest the “different kind of ‘technoscape,’” that Théberge links to local studios (2004, 773-74).24

Conclusion: Non-Studio Space, Ensemble Performance and Staging

The above discussion of the production processes behind Buzzy, and the analysis of audio examples illustrate the value of non-studio production practice in widening both the practical and theoretical understandings of the concept of staging. Lacasse’s framework for evaluating this aspect of recorded performances also reveals itself to be applicable beyond the electronic manipulation of vocal streams; this article has sought to highlight the value of this concept in understanding the schizophonic nature of staging strategies involving both natural and electronic reverberation effects. More broadly, the studio-as-instrument in the sonic staging process forces us to grapple with conceptions of contemporary rock production that appear less reducible to archetypal work-flows in predefined spaces. Rather, a focus on the complex and productive interactions between tracking space, performance style and timbre, and musical and thematic material reveals the creative potential of mobile production practices.


1 Central to the paper’s theoretical approach is the idea of “process as aesthetic;” presenting and discussing the processes underlying these two recordings, rather than simply analysing the resultant tracks. The idea of “process as aesthetic” is borrowed here from Alistair Riddell, who argues that, in digital music production, “The resulting audio signal, which we eventually call music, may be only a snapshot of something more complex musically but that cannot be entirely or adequately expressed in a single or several musical instances” (2001: 342). This approach is also predicated on the conceptions of music-as-activity forwarded by several other scholars, eg., Christopher Small (1998), and Antoinne Hennion (2001:2-3).

2 As Virgil Moorefield has noted, “the equivalent of a recording console which cost $150,000 in 1995 can now be had for about $2,000 (2005: xvii).” This paper seeks to analyse some of the less expected effects of this democratisation of music production resources (see also Katz, 2004 Théberge, 1997: 12). It should also be noted that the concept of Democratisation is used in a somewhat utopian fashion. For a detailed discussion of the limits and suggested applications of this term see Taylor, 2000: 6. Scholars have discussed the impact of democratisation on the in terms of the increasing use of domestic spaces for semi-professional music production, (see Théberge, 1997), and others, such as Prior (2008) have discussed mobile electronic production practises. However, the use of both mobile and more conventional large-scale studio technologies here is perhaps evoked by what Théberge terms the ‘Mothership Scenario’ (1997: 232).

3 It should be noted that Lacasse discusses the historical uses of acoustic staging at some length in the introductory chapters of his work, though his discussions of staging in rock productions rarely refer to the nature of the space in which the vocals were recorded.

4 See Bates, 2012: 5; Schafer, 1977: 90, and below. Note, while not the most precise term, the word ‘natural’ is hereafter used to denote the reverberant characteristics of acoustic (physical) space, as opposed to electronically applied reverb effects.

5 NZMIC Albany Street Studio is located in Dunedin, and run by the University of Otago Department of Music. For further information on the studio see:, accessed 1 November 2012.

6 The relevant New Zealand Album Charts can be found at the following web addresses:;

(All accessed: November 2012):

New Zealand tour dates can be found at: (Accessed: November 2012)

Australian tour information can be found at: (Accessed: November 2012)

7 This track, entitled “Frozen Cat / Blackie the Cat,” comprises tracks 7 and 8 of Buzzy. All of the tracks referred to hereafter (by track number and time code) can be streamed for free at the following URL:

8 For example, see track 5, “Do Things” at 06:17.

9 Information on First Church, including some photographs, can be found at: (Accessed: December 2012). The Church’s cathedral is a very large, multi-storey space, which has a characteristically long reverberation time of around four seconds.

10 As evidenced by the link in note VI above, this studio houses a very large-scale SSL recording console, and an extensive list of industry standard studio equipment. As we had relatively easy access to this space and equipment for the research project, it should be clear that our choices to record elsewhere were by no means motivated by economics, or deficiencies in the studio space available to us.

11 Of the many discussions of rationalisation and multi-tracking processes in studio production, Thomas Porcello’s glossing of the subject (2005a: 106) is a good place to start; see also Théberge, 1989, and Frederickson 1989 for historical perspectives.

12 See track 5 at 00:01 to 00:03.

13 Thomas Porcello’s application of these terms to studio recording is an exceptional framework for this discussion; see Porcello, 2005a: 107; see also Keil and Feld, 1994 and Progler, 1995. Note also that from hereafter participatory discrepancies are abbreviated to ‘PD’s.’

14 For an explanation of mid-side microphone technique see Dooley and Streicher, 1982.

15 Lacasse also links the cathedral environment to the propagation of “supernatural” characteristics, the slowing of speech, and the influence over the chosen keys in which music was performed.

16 It is worth noting that I have discussed the general use of this technique by bands in Dunedin, New Zealand, in a more sociologically focussed paper on the subject; see Holland: 2012, pp. 123-25.

17 These techniques include; tracking the entire rhythm section simultaneously, the extensive use of room microphones, and a focus on recording entire performances of a song in one take, avoiding click tracks and not using a great deal of digital editing (2005a).

18 The term ‘performance environments’ here is used both in its ordinary sense (as we are here discussing the environments in which audio was actually recorded), and William Moylan’s use of the term in his construction of a framework for analysing spatialisation in recorded music (2012).

19 For a discussion of the relationship between lyrical and sonic narrative, see Liu-Rosenbaum: 2012.

20 For the remainder of the lyrics to this track, see (Accessed: November 2012)

21 As mentioned above, Lacasse has also discussed the relationship between cathedrals, performance practice, and connotations of the sacred (see above, and Lacasse: 2000, pp. 51-54).

22 Stanyek and Piekut’s concept, constructed in order to understand issues of posthumous musical collaboration – the connection between rhizophonia and death / re-birth being particularly appropriate to this analysis of “Frozen Cat.”

23 These notes can be viewed at: (Accessed: January 2013)

24 While I am not arguing for a specificity of focus on locality – the non-studio recording practices described here could be affected in a wide range of locales – Thomas Porcello’s thoughts again seem relevant here. In his delineation of the term “techoustemology,” he suggests that scholars in this field should “demand[s] an accountability for how music, technology, sound and social practices are used and made meaningful locally” (2005b: 271). If one conceptualises the term ‘local’ not just in terms of place, but also in terms of the physical and symbolic characteristics of recording space, then his comment seems apt here.


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Left or Right, ‘Do Things,’ Buzzy. [CD] Mr Yoda Productions, 2012.

Left or Right, ‘Frozen Cat / Blackie the Cat,’ Buzzy. [CD] Mr Yoda Productions, 2012.

Left or Right, Buzzy. [CD] Mr Yoda Productions, 2012.

Left or Right, Nuggety. [CD] Mr Yoda Productions, 2012.